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Wednesday 9 June 2004

Is Google getting worse? [brit]

I won't pretend to understand the myriad algorithms and various bits of math that Google uses to return search results; there are simply loads of them, and I don't care.
What I do understand is that Google's method of ranking search results by relevance, especially context and content, is fast becoming seriously annoying.
Right now, I'm about to whack together a dedicated DS3 line between London and New York, and part of this involves me wanting to find a bit of kit which will act as a remote reboot mechanism for the remote server (since I cannot guarantee bods-on-site when I need them, timezones and all).
So I go to Google and I type in: remote server reboot hardware
I get a bunch of results back, some 190,000 in fact. The first result is yet another one of these fucking annoying sites that are nothing more than completely useless directory sites:
(It's deliberately not linked because it's utter crap). I clicked on it anyway, before fully reading the link and is there anything useful there? no, of course not, the first link in the directory is 'United Kingdom Porn Stars' and the second is about antique door knobs.
These sites are *everywhere* and they're absolutely no bloody use whatsoever, and because Google's results context mechanism is so shit right now, they get returned first.
Both Webcrawler and Altavista returned relevant results in the first page, using the same search criteria, and I've now found what I'm looking for.
Maybe the Google boys would do well to concentrate less on the forthcoming IPO and more on actually making their so called 'bleeding edge technology' actually do what it's supposed to do and return results in line with what the user wants?
Google Schmoogle.


  1. The trouble with Google is that they actually use how many links there are to the web pages, to rank then. The theory going that poxy little web sites of no concern wont get linked very often. Where this falls over is when various web parasites roll up and create all these linky pages with the sole purpose of boosting the ranking on various search terms.
    There's actually an entire industry of criminals and parasites which live off of influencing the results in Google. So the flaws you describe are very little to do with what Google is doing.
    And anyway, what's wrong with occasionally having to use a different search engine url to find the shit you need? I mean, if everyone but everyone uses Google then one day you can bet people will complain that they're the only game in town.

  2. Yeah, blame google because you can't do your job. The internet has never been the same since slim stopped answering technical queries!

  3. I suppose I use Google the most purely because I have the Google task bar / pop up blocker thing installed; which is actually bloody handy.
    Pagerank has been the subject of much criticism, though I didn't know there was a whole industry (illicit as it clearly is) formed just to bugger up the results of what should be quite a useful method of returning stuff.

  4. Yeah I'm the same. I always use Google first but I've also become fairly adept at tailoring queries to get rid of the junk. Your search terms you mentioned, for example, are awefully generic and so prime fodder for keyword fishing googlebombs.
    The page rank system comes in for criticism but ... if Google wasn't giving people essentially the right results, then people wouldn't be using it.
    However the commercial exploitation has gone off the scale. Stuff like Kelkoo and Dealtime. They've basically gone and automated generating of web pages based on every single model name of any current peice of consumer electronics, for example. So you type in specific model names and you invariably get streams of hits from these hyper-annoying web sites. Oh, if you put 'review' in, it's even worse.
    Of course all these web sites want to be price directories and third-party review directories too. But there's so many of the wanky things that there's never any reviews on them, just a half dozen badly formatted links to e-commerce people flogging the kit.
    It's commercial companies targetting Google which are now drowning out anything you might want to read in a sea of irrelevant commercial link-o-sites. Now that is damn annoying.
    But it works for them too. Dealtime and Kelkoo drive frightening amounts of traffic to ecommerce sites...

  5. Kelkoo saved me £50 on my cannon a60! So I liked it that day.
    I've tried to use it since and it's using some fuzzy matching rather than specific to what you put in. Which is pretty fucking annoying.
    Brit trying putting in exactly what you're after, the OS of the server etc..
    If you're just looking to boot a remote server I've an exe I can email you 'shutdown.exe' which you can batch use with /r to reboot a box.

  6. Shedir, the bit of kit I'm after is a piece of hardware that can be dialled into and instructed to recycle the power on a remote server it's linked to. I've found one now, and it's kinda nifty and surprisingly cheap

  7. we had something like that in our machines when I worked in the hositng company, a 'drac' card I think it was called. Had its own IP and power supply, and no matter what state the machine was in (*doze or *ix) you could get onto it and see why machine crashed and/or reboot